A retooled Dallas squad visits the ACC with a better record than the pundits, including me, had expected. 11 & 11 won’t win any championships, but the Mavs are holding their own while awaiting the return of Dirk Nowitzki. Unlike the Raps, the Mavs have chosen to run with veterans, including the recent addition of Derek (Hang ‘em up already!) Fisher. The former player negotiator deluxe is enjoying his time in Big D – the Mavs are 4-2 since he joined.
Their most important player is Guard O.J. Mayo, who’s silenced all those numerous critics who hounded him out of Memphis by averaging almost 21 PPG. He’s been crazy-good from distance, hitting 64 of 122. The Raps’ defenders will have to be in this guy’s face all game. Fisher won’t draw double teams like Mayo, but will make the Raps pay if they ignore him. Veteran Centre Chris Kaman is having another excellent season, & will be a serious handful for Jonas Valanciunas. JV must avoid the fouls which have been plaguing his rookie campaign. If he’s forced to the bench, Kaman will dominate the boards. Oddly enough, the Mavs’ leading rebounder is ex-Rap Shawn Marion (BTW: they have another…some guy named Carter), whose odd shooting form hasn’t stopped him from a fine 13-year career. Dahntay Jones is named as the starting Small Forward, but don’t expect him to log a lot of minutes. The Mavs’ bench features many solid veterans like Elton Brand, Darren Collison, Jae Crowder & that Vince guy, & highly-regarded Coach Rick Carlisle will not hesitate to play a 10 man rotation.
The walking wounded will try to play for the Raps tonight; expected to return are Alan Anderson & Linas Kleiza. Coach Casey will have to be at his best to muster a win with his badly undermanned squad. At a minimum, Ed Davis [watch for a lengthy post on him very soon] will need to have another 20-10 night, DeMar DeRozan must hit his pick-&-pop shots, & Jose Calderon must make some 3s. Mikeal Pietrus starts at Small Forward, but that provides little comfort. His shooting from distance has been poor, as has John Lucas’. If this game gets out of control, which is very possible, Terrence Ross & Quincy Acy could play lengthy minutes.
Reverse psychology again? Sure, let’s: Mavericks 104 – Raps 99.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.